Thanks for your continued support - at close of play on Wednesday night, my total stands at a massive 26 votes, and I'm still at 5th place out of the 9 prospective candidates for the South West region. Up to now, I have relied on family and friends for their support, but I guess I need to step things up a gear.....the only problem is how?? Having never done anything like this before, I'd welcome any ideas on how to reach a wider readership.
I have had a contribution from someone in Gibraltar (thanks, "All Seeing Eye" - I really appreciate the opportunity to engage with the residents of Gib), so I thought I'd set out my thoughts.
I must admit to being puzzled as to why Gibraltar is clustered with the South West of England - having visited the Rock a number of times (sadly quite a while ago, but I'm open to offers.....I vaguely remember a nightclub, near HMS ROOKE's all weather pitches, may have been called Captain Jacks? And one of the apes nicked my camera.....) I would say that it has a distinct and individual character - however I suspect that it is all down to politics rather than any sound logical reasoning.
On the sovereignty issue, although I understand that Spain may assert a territorial claim, in reality this is as much a nonsense as the Russians claiming the North Pole or the USA claiming the Moon. I have no wish to insult or upset any Spaniards (indeed, one of my oldest and closest friends lives in Madrid, which is a most wonderful city), but the position of the Spanish Government is brilliantly inconsistent, given the status of Cueta and Melilla. The fact is, Gibraltar has been seperate from Spain for almost 300 years. If there is any future change in Gib's status, it would be more logical for this to be more towards full independence, rather than re-integration with Spain. If eventual independence is the will of the Gibraltarian people, then I would hope that the bond of goodwill between Gib and the UK will remain strong, as has been the case with other former outposts of the empire.
Could an independent Gibraltar be sustainable? I don't see why not - within the EEA other small nations manage quite happily, examples being Malta & Luxembourg (within the EU, but larger populations than Gibraltar), and Liechtenstein (comparable in terms of population, and member of EFTA)
Rather than focussing on the past, the future for Gibraltar is potentially very exciting - the last time I visited in the late 80's, the dockyard underpinned the local economy, however new industries such as financial services and tourism have blossomed and now provide the bulk of economic activity. Even though we live in a period of financial turmoil, things will pick up and there is no reason why the new service industries should not continue to develop and prosper. People will always want financial services - especially in a safe, stable, well regulated and tax friendly country, and as for tourism, you have been blessed with a stunning piece of land, located in an ideal position (especially for Cruise ships) - who in their right mind would not want to visit, given the opportunity? Hotels, casinos, resorts...if you build them, they will come.
If I get through the primary (are text votes from Gibraltar accepted? They certainly should be...if not, let me know and I'll investigate with Jury-Team HQ) and I get the opportunity to campaign in Gibraltar, I would welcome the opportunity to take advice on the issues that matter to the Gibraltarian public.
If (and its a big if) I am fortunate enough to be elected, I would make a point of visiting Gib at the very earliest opportunity to discuss the way forward. If it is the will of the people that Gibraltar should have its own directly elected representative to the European parliament, then I give my word now that this is something that I will actively campaign for, and until that point, I will make every effort to represent the people of Gibraltar with the same diligence as other constituents in the South West region.
I hope that answers your question "All Seeing Eye" - I'd welcome any comments.